This year we have been working on a backyard pond. It is not a huge pond… (8′ x 15′) but it is a nice place to sit and unwind after a long , hot day. Right now we have 9 koi, 4 goldfish and a hundred or so mosquitofish (they multiply exponentially so if you need any – let me know!) For water plants, we have water lilies, horsetail and papyrus.
The pond gets quite a bit of sun here in the Mojave Desert and we decided that the fish could use some extra shade and more hiding spots. Lotus seems like it would be a good choice. I searched eBay for lotus seed and came up with quite a large list of sellers (most of them in China!) It seems the average price for 10 seeds (with free shipping) was approximately $2… At that price why not take a chance! I ordered 10 ‘blue enchantress’ lotus seeds.
The package arrived from China in 10 days. Not bad – considering it was free shipping. I hope that seller actually made some money for their trouble! Time to sprout some seed.
The seeds looked like hard, brown olives with a tiny bump at one end. I followed directions and carefully nicked off one end of the seed (the end with the bump) with a utility knife. Using a knife – it sounds like you may damage the seed but the seed is tough and difficult to damage.The biggest threat is to your fingers so be careful with the knife!
Once the seeds are nicked (so that water can actually get into the seed) just drop the seeds into a jar of water.(approximately 72f) Change the water daily to keep water clear. It was hard to believe, but after two days the seeds were already sprouting! By day 5, some of the sprouts were over 6″ long!! These things grow faster than weeds! I hope I am not making a mistake here…
Time to put these lotus into pots. I carefully half of the seedlings into a clay pot filled with aquarium plant substrate (from Petco) and then put a bit more in to cover the seed. The best way to describe the substrate is potting mix made out of crushed lava. The other half of the seedlings I planted in potting mix and then topped off with substrate so it wouldn’t float away. I have no idea what will work the best, so I will experiment and add an update.
The one thing that I worry about is whether or not the koi will try to eat the new sprouts. I have watched them eat a pumpkin leaf that I allowed to grow into the water for extra shade. I think I will put half of the pots into the pond and the other half submerged on a 5 gallon bucket… just in case!
Well, I guess that I did have reason to worry! After one night (we had a nice thunderstorm!) the koi ate 4 of the 6 seedlings that I had put into the pond.
I am hoping that once the plants get established the fish will leave them alone… In the meantime I put a birdcage over the rest of the plants so the koi can’t get to them! I will continue to update the lotus progress here…
*1 Week Update*
Well it has been a week since I placed the lotus into the pond (2 weeks since I started the seed) Most of the plants now have 2 to 3 inch diameter leaves and some nice roots. But the best news is that the koi no longer seem interested in the sprouts! I found out that the fish do love to eat small green peas-hopefully they will not bother the lotus.
I did find one baby mosquito fish actually hiding out in a little puddle of water on top of the lotus leaf! It’s hard to see, but it’s almost in the center of the leaf…
I have a patch of tomatillos and pumpkins right next to the pond, so as an experiment this year I have been watering the plants with the pond water. I am amazed how large and vigorous the plants are! The tomatillos are 3-4′ tall (last year they were maybe 16 inches) I will be making a lot of Habanero Tomatillo Salsa this year!
My Carribean Red Habaneros are doing well too! These are my favorite peppers but they are not for the faint of heart…